Amateur Radio Station: W5EHS - FCC Licensed Owner/Operator: Dan Kautz

Screenshot 2018 08 03 09.59.42I recently started using a new digital mode on HF bands. It's called FT8 and is intended for weak signal contact verification.

In my opinion it is not a human communication experience. The only purpose is to establish that two amateur radio stations (not operators) were able to exchange a verified minimal exchange of station call signs and minimal report data such as location code and signal strength. I have yet to see the operator name included in the exchange.


The human effort amounts to a mouse-click on a call sign on the video screen and then lean back to watch and wait.

The concept is used for EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) contacts but FT8 has been refined for terrestrial weak signals on HF.

Since it is designed for working very weak signals, in my opinion "big gun" full legal limit operation is not in the spirit of the mode. My opinion only, as there is NOT a QRP requirement on HF. EME is often run with as much power as can legally be developed. So I am referencing in my opinion that "only using the power necessary" is part of the ethics of good operation.

As I stated, a lot of the spirit of person to person contact is lost when using this type of communication. But is is a part of the amateur radio experience. I like the technical aspects. I am not against using FT8 or any of the other digital mode systems. The almost unlimited forms of communicating IS in the spirit of Amateur Radio and that is why I have chosen to give it a try.

I am using my FLEX-1500 SDR (Software Defined Radio) QRP (5 Watts) transceiver and the WSJT-X software. Five watts SSB (USB) works very well. There are some tricks in configuring the FLEX-1500 as virtual audio and COM ports must be established between the PoweSDR radio software and the WSJT-X application. The computer is my Intel NUC.

This post is about my new mode and what I think about this type of operation. Not an How-to. Maybe I'll say more in an article some time... I am a newbie right now.